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Andersonville to Get New Parklet by the Coffee Studio, Plus Bike Corrals

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Andersonville’s vibrant, ped-friendly Clark Street business district just keeps getting better. Last year the strip got one of Chicago’s first “People Spots” at Clark and Farragut, which replaced car parking with a miniature park with benches and greenery, as well as an on-street bike parking corral next to the parklet and another one by the Hopleaf tavern, 5148 N. Clark. Now the neighborhood is about to get its second parklet, the fifth one in the city, this time on Clark Street at Olive, in front of Piatto Pronto Italian deli and the Coffee Studio café. The new space could open as soon as early May.

The existing People Spot and bike corrals were removed for the winter. When I called Brian Bonnano, sustainability programs manager with the Andersonville Development Corporation, for details on the new parklet, he had just come back from screwing lag bolts into the asphalt to re-install the Hopleaf rack. The ADC was planning on replacing the Farragut parklet and rack this Friday, but recently found out that the city wants them to complete a new use agreement with Chicago Department of Transportation for the space, which will set things back a week or two. “It kind of worked out for the best,” Bonnano said. “We’ve had sort of a strange, cold spring and a lot of the landscapers don’t actually have all their plants in stock yet.”

He actually tried to get the Olive People Spot installed last year but he said the neighboring business owners decided they wanted to see the concept piloted elsewhere first. After the success of the Farragut parklet last year, they agreed to move forward. Since then Bonnano has been working with Gerardo Garcia from CDOT’s Streetscape and Sustainable Design program to secure spaces on Clark. On Tuesday Garcia confirmed that two parking spots in front of the deli would be available for the mini park and an adjacent bike corral, exchanged for new metered spots created elsewhere in the 40th Ward.

Bonnano estimates the Farragut parklet cost close to $30,000 all told. It was funded by money from Special Service Area #22 (an SSA is a district where additional programs and projects are funded by an extra property tax), some grant dollars, $7,000 from a Kickstarter campaign and donations from local businesses. Bonnano and the architect, Moss Design, were also able to source about $10,000 worth of donated building materials.

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The SSA is funding the new parklet, which hopefully won’t cost much more than $15,000. “If it really goes over that I don’t think it’s going to be a sustainable program, at least for our neighborhood.” Bonnano said. “We hope to get a couple years out of each of these spaces and if it’s over $15K it just doesn’t make a lot of sense unless we can build these in a more permanent way.”

The Rebuilding Exchange will be providing the materials, and RX Made, the building materials recycler’s furniture line, will be designing the space. “We’re still leaning towards benches and more open seating space as opposed to tables and chairs,” Bonnano said. “Since we have a coffee shop there we kind of want to have a space that’s possibly like a standing coffee bar. A lot of this depends on what the city is willing to allow us to do. Both of the businesses are very interested in the design and making it something that’s unique and not just an outdoor café. It will have plants and it should hopefully be fairly interesting.”


View Andersonville Parklets and Bike Corrals in a larger map

Current and proposed People Spot (red) and bike corral (blue) locations.

The ADC is also looking at installing three-to-four new bike corrals in the next month or two, including the one near Olive. “If we get all of them it will really spread them out throughout the neighborhood,” Bonnano said. The southernmost rack would be in front of SoFo Tap at Argyle and Clark. The corral near the Farragut Parklet will be shifted south a bit, closer to Urban Orchard grocery store.

Cheetah Gym, near Clark and Berwyn, may get an on-street rack “since that place is notoriously a bike parking nightmare,” Bonnano said. “They were one of the original businesses that several years ago tried to get a bike parking corral installed.” The northernmost corral would be near Edgewater Avenue, close to Bikram Yoga Andersonville, M. Henry restaurant, and La Baguette bakery. “I have a sense that other businesses might be inquiring about bike corrals as well,” Bonnano said. "So, who knows, we could have a couple more before the end of next year."

Bonnano said he’s excited about the new People Spot and bike corrals, but added that navigating the city bureaucracy and the parking meter contract has been challenging. “I was hoping with the experience we gained last year it would be a lot easier to get all of these things installed this year,” he said. “But the system is still being worked out, and we’ve had to figure out use agreements and permitting, and also the parking issue does come up again. The more and more we install these things, the fewer parking spaces we’ll be able to shift around, which could become a problem. But hopefully, if we get all of these locations in, we’ll be set for a while.”

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